So what’s the solution? There's not one easy answer when it comes to finding humane ways to consume, but there are many ways to ignite personal and cultural change.
Whare can you have the highest impact?
High-impact industries in which the current consumer norm has a negative impact on the planet, people, and other animals. When these are industries that many of us use frequently—and perhaps must use to some degree—building consumer habits that do the most good (MOGO) can lead to considerably less harm.
Where to focus your energy?
Consider the leverage points available to you in your life and your community. Sometimes, changing personal personal habits feels like a small solution to big problems, but these habits influence demand, inspire others, and allow us to act in accordance with our values. There are also meaningful leverage points beyond our personal purchasing habits, like using your voice to question unconscious company and policy practices.
We require clothes, but we don't need to consume it at the rate or to the extent our culture makes us demand. The fast fashion industry contributes to resource depletion, textile waste, demand for cheap and forced labor, and—depending on the material—animal suffering. Consuming clothing more consciously can be a rewarding, creative process.
Our acceptance and frequent use of single-use items, unrecyclable plastics, styrofoam, and wrapping creates massive amounts of waste, toxins, and marine-life death. It's so meaningful to be conscious of packaging with how present it is in our daily lives with food, deliveries, and other goods.
Few of us are without electronics today, and many of us require them for school, work, and communication needs. With that, electronics have made a large impact on resource depletion, e-waste, and demand for unfair and volatile mineral mining practices in their relatively short existence. Influence the future of electronics consumption.
The Conscious Consumer Toolkit
Some ingredients are just generally harmful by way of extraction practices, chemical usage, or animal dependency. If consumers are knowledgeable about ingredients that cause harm and choose products that do not use these ingredients when alternatives are available, we can decrease demand for these ingredients.
Ingredients to avoid
As more conscious consumers cast their dollar votes for environmentally-friendly products, more companies are making efforts to produce environmentally-friendly products. This is GREAT. Some companies, however, are over-selling their environmental efforts or are using “green marketing” without any pro-environment changes or results. There is a lot of deceptive marketing around product end-of-life, particularly with what can be recycled:
Be aware of companies trying to appeal to you with green or natural-colored packaging, nature images, and words like “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “toxin-free.” Companies can use these appeals in marketing without actually selling a product that is mitigating environmental harm. Look for products that have a certification or seal or provide exact details on their ecological actions and impacts on their website or packaging.
Credible environmental seals
In addition to environmental seals, there are seals that address a product's impact on animals and humans. It's worth noting that we can get a false sense of security if we don’t truly understand what a label means about a product. Sometimes, we get a sense that products are something that they are not—particularly when it comes to a product's impact on the animals that went into it.
Human and animal impact seals